“Have you seen the movie,
Two women near me were comparing movies and this one caught my attention because I had, indeed, seen it. (The rest all sounded like Woody Allen movie titles.) It was a brilliant movie with all of the things I love best, a sense of place, interesting food, amazing dialogue and Martin Sheen. The overhear prompted me to go back and look at the website for it where I was struck by the tagline at the top:You don’t choose a life, you live one.
This idea of being driven by mission both intrigues and scares me. There is a loss of control inherent in the very idea of not having a choice… and attempting to be at peace with this has frequently eluded me.
Not so for others I know though. Some of the best artists, for example were practically, or actually, driven mad by their passion, whatever their medium- writing, canvas, stage. Passion, I believe, is the other side of mission. It is the living out of mission. The question is, how do we tap into our passion and do we have the courage to embrace it when we find it.
There are many different forms of mission, but one of the most obvious to recognize is the proselytizer. What I am coming to see, though, is that all missions are born of the same inner desire to be who we were born to be… in other words, to live our life rather than attempt to choose it.
One of my barista friends at Starbucks is a wonderful example of this. Raised in a family of missionaries, Justin is now leading his own missions to Prague. Justin, in fact, was born in Germany while his parents were on mission there with Cadence International (which provides Christian ministry for U.S. soldiers and their families stationed around the world).
Why Prague? For many years the Czech Republic was under communist rule where all organized religions, including Christianity, were persecuted. Now many missions go to rebuild the churches there. Setting up a missionary trip is
not an easy task for anyone, even assuming the support of a local church. But in this case it is even more daunting as Justin is in his early twenties and is drawing on his previous church in Colorado to help him. He has gone on missions with Bethany Evangelical Free Church before, but this will be the first one he has actually organized himself.
Still, 15 of his friends have agreed to go on this mission with him from July 8th to the 24th this year. As I write about this I am struck by the idea that 16 young adults have enough passion to spend part of their summer on a mission. I can’t imagine I would have had the courage to do this at that age.
Passion truly comes in many different forms. I feel grateful that over time I have found my calling, my mission if you will, in my writing. Through this I am no as scared as I used to be when I hear someone talk of their own personal mission. I understand it so much better now than I ever have before.I wish Justin a ton of success with his own mission. I know it won’t be easy, not the least of which is because each individual on the team must fundraise to earn $2,400 in order to participate. Then again… it may not be the summer they choose, but the summer they live.
(Note: If you would like to donate to their cause or learn more about it you can contact Justin Schroeder at
“There’s a lost child wearing a bright orange t-shirt…”
We heard a brief snippet of the announcement come over the attendant’s walkie-talkie as we waited to board the Zoo Train. In a moment, I was back at my high school summer job… a hostess at Marine World, Africa USA.
It was a dream job for me. I was outside all day, working with the guests at the shows, around animals, and able to eat pretzels and soft-serve for my lunch. My uniform… shorts, a cute shirt and espadrilles, ended up giving me the weirdest tan lines that didn’t really go away for years afterwards. This, though, was more like a badge of honor… how could anyone not envy my job?
My favorite shift to get was the first one of the day. Arriving before the park was open, it felt like I had it all to myself. The paths were perfectly clean and everything was quiet but for the call of the animals now and then.
When this was combined with a shift at the dolphin show my day was perfect. There I would say hello to my dolphin friends and they would follow me around the arena as I prepared it for the show. We had a fun game of tag where I would go in one direction along the tank and they would chase me until they could splash me with water, then I would turn and go the other way and they would try to repeat it.
I even enjoyed working in the information booth… a shift that for some reason the other hosts felt was the worst. I liked answering questions for the guests and welcoming them as soon as they walked in the front gates. The
only part of the job I hated was when a child would become lost and be brought to us to care for. Being with the poor, scared child wasn’t the part I disliked; I appreciated the chance to try to reassure them and make them feel better. It was only when the parents arrived that my anxiety would peak.
If the parents found them quickly all was fine. But for some reason, the longer it had been the angrier they were with the child when they finally found them. After being with the scared child for a while, it was almost impossible for me to watch quietly while the parents yelled at them for disappearing.
Now, of course, as a parent I understand better. For one thing, although my daughter was never a runner, I have seen plenty of other children who are. Warning after warning makes no difference… and it is only after getting truly lost that the child learns the lesson about staying close to their parent. I also learned, in that info booth, how easily it can happen. So while my daughter doesn’t enjoy hearing my directions every time we go somewhere crowded, I still remind her of what to do if we are separated.
This article by wikihow
provides excellent suggestion for keeping children safe at amusement parks, which from the sound of it the parents of the lost zoo child did well. And I like to think that when they found him, rather than yelling, he got a huge hug.
“Is this lunch or dinner?”
“Neither, it’s Happy Hour.”
… At which point my husband and I broke down in hysterics. The irony of our answer was lost on my daughter, who was in one of those places where nothing was going to make her happy.
We were sitting in a beautiful spot, overlooking the Lake, on our last night in Tahoe and trying desperately to enjoy our drink, if not our time.
Ahhh summer…. A time of ice cream trucks, water fights, and whining. They go together like peas and carrots and
When can I watch TV?
Are we doing anything fun today?
I don’t want to go to the grocery store.
Are we there yet?
The complaints are never ending and are set up so that by the time September rolls around we are more than ready to get up at 6:00 a.m. again and send our little loves out into the world of school. (Sigh, give me a moment to dream about this….. ok, I’m back)
Don’t get me wrong; I love the extra time I get to spend with her when she isn’t whinging about something. I love watching her build a huge lego tennis court (after we have insisted that 8:00 a.m. is far too early to begin watching tv). And I really love being able to get outdoors bike riding or playing on the street with friends and neighbors (when the Portland rain finally lets up).
It’s just that, like most parents, I wish we could do all this without the drama that prefaces it.
However I may have discovered a solution… A friend recently returned home from a family visit to their parent’s farm in South Dakota. The kids learned, when they arrived there, that there were no computers, Wii, video games and you could only watch channel by channel on the tv. After the first few days of pain, the kids finally gave in, accepted it, and would simply go outside as soon as they got up in the morning. So next year we are definitely
vacationing at a farm!
Even without any fancy drinks involved it sounds like the very happiest happy-hour of all.
Happy 4th of July to all my friends!
God Bless the USA.
“I wish they would still let us light a fire in the fireplace…. Early summer nights can get cold here.”
We’d just finished our tour of Vikingsholm
and were talking with the wonderful park ranger who had provided such great information on the beautiful old house.
As a child I’d spent my summers at Lake Tahoe, and it was a family tradition to hike down to Vikingsholm and have a picnic there. So I remember the spot fondly and was so glad to finally be able to share it with my own family. But even more, I loved taking our hike because it was the first time I had gone back since using it as the setting for one of the scenes in Betting Jessica
I recently wrote a guest blog post for Romancing the Genres
where I describe why I love to write contemporary fiction. I enjoy being able to use things I observe or overhear or past experiences. The scene from Betting Jessica
is a perfect example of this.
On one of our trips when I was young a terrible storm came up and began raining and then hailing on us as we were half way down the mountain. My mom had us hold towels over our heads to keep the stone sized hail from hurting
and we ran down the mountain until we reached the castle. When we arrived there we found all of the visitors huddled inside and they quickly made room for us.
As I took the tour my memories of that experience overlapped with the story I had created. I asked the park ranger if the fireplace was ever used, and this led to us talking about that childhood experience so long ago. I explained that I remembered a fire being lit in the fireplace and at some point the ranger pulling out his guitar and leading the storm hostages in song. She told me that although the fireplace was no longer used, she had heard stories about the previous ranger playing his guitar and sometimes having a fire there.
Fortunately, Betting Jessica
is fictionalized because when they arrive at the castle after encountering a similar hailstorm they are able to have an intimate moment sitting on the hearth in front of the fire… something that couldn’t actually happen at Vikingsholm today.
Still… as I stood there, getting ready to shoot a YouTube video for my fans, Erik and Jessica were as real to me as the ghost of my past self.
Main room at Vikingsholm
with fireplace in the background.
“What if I gave myself a sticker every time I practiced being flexible this summer?”
HA! We were talking about the challenges of being a summer mom as opposed to a school year mom… and one of the moms came up with this way for rewarding ourselves: A sticker chart with a big reward at the end of the summer
For some of us (not naming any names) the biggest challenge of the summer will be missing the routine of the school year. We will have to practice our calm breathing when our child asks if they can put up a lemonade stand instead of tagging along on the list of errands we had planned to accomplish.
Others will need the strength to fight the workbook battle…the challenge of encouraging the kids to maintain the skills they have learned so that when they return to school it isn’t such a shock to their systems.
Finally there are those who will have to hold themselves back from scheduling a million different ‘fun’ summer activities; so that by the end of the day the kids are such crank-meisters that no one is having any fun at all.
Each of these challenges deserves a sticker when accomplished and a reward at the end of the summer. Because, although summer is fun and is about the kids and isa time to be together…. It is also a landmine filled with fights and battles and tug-of-wars; and I am not talking the kinds that require squirt guns.
Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be the dawn of a new period. One filled with no alarm clock (except that we can’t sleep too late or there will be a bedtime battle), no lunchboxes (except I know we can’t have pizza out every day so I will have to fill the fridge with something healthy), and no homework (except, somehow I will have to create fun ways to encourage math skills).
I force a deep breath and give myself a sticker already for not hyperventilating. It is clear my reward chart will be filled before we even reach the 4th of July.
Happy Summer to all my wonderful mom friends!
“Have you noticed the UPS guy’s been using the porta-potty in front of the neighbors’ house?”
Seriously? Yeah, really…. The guy has been doing that. A house on our street has been doing some remodeling and apparently the construction workers toilet has been seeing some extra use.
To be fair… driving around all day is kind of a crappy (pun absolutely intended) job. I don’t know about you, but I am always sipping something when I drive; coffee, water, soda. At some point it would have to get to you, right? And then what? I imagine that is why I often see fed-ex and UPS drivers stopping into Starbucks.
In a past life I spent a lot of time on the road as a sales rep. (selling checks which is so funny I just had
to say it). Anyway… I know what it is like to require a pit stop and I became very good at sussing out the very best spots to, shall we say, take a break. So… just in time for your summer travel, here’s my list of top five places to go to
the bathroom when you have to go
(please note: porta-potties are nowhere on this list
5. Hotels (in the olden days it was useful that they also had phones).
4. McDonalds (‘nough said… who hasn’t done this?)
3. Community Colleges (just be careful of the parking)
2. Starbucks (duh! Although not an option long ago when I was on the road)
1. Libraries (where next year you should also be able to find a copy of my book, Untangling the Knot
Like how I snuck that in? Yes… it is official! I have finally received my first book contract and will be publishing the digital version of Untangling the Knot
by Christmas and the print version sometime next year.
Am I excited? Definitely! I love the publisher (Soulmate Publishing LLC); am thrilled to be working with a great editor; and can’t wait to hold a hard copy of this wonderful story in my hands before I turn fifty. (Click over to The World of my Books
to see more about Untangling the Knot
As a side benefit… today marks the one year anniversary of my blog
. What better way to celebrate than with an announcement of this wonderful milestone. Today in particular I’d love to hear about your own dreams being
worked on or already fulfilled; so please leave a comment.
And remember… Every journey begins with a single step (even if it is only in the direction of the porta-potty).
“I like to keep my washboard abs covered…. I don’t want to be that guy
Don’t hide them on our behalf, I say; although, Starbucks might frown upon a bare barista. (points for alliteration.)
‘Tis the season to begin showing off those beach bodies, should you have them, and laying claim to the hard work of many gray days. For my part most of my body will still be as covered up as possible. Not only am I as pale as a beluga whale… I also feel like my body matches one right now.
Around me, though, everyone seems to be motivated to get into shape. I even caught my dog doing sit-ups the other day… or maybe she was getting ready to puke, it is difficult to tell with her. I however feel I am doing well if I take the parking spot on the far side from Starbucks. That extra .0002 mile might make a difference.
If life is about balance, than mine is sadly out of whack right now. Email seems to have taken over the majority of my day. Even with a fantastic board, being President of my writing organization has been a bit more work than I bargained for. I’m not complaining… I have enjoyed getting to know the members and the organization as a whole better. Also, as I mentioned I get to work with an excellent group of people who are doing amazing things (check out our writing contest on our revised website: http://rosecityromancewriters.com/contest-home/
for a great example of this).
When I am not emailing about writer stuff, my communication seems to revolve around end of the year school activities; playdates, parties, and getting things in order for the summer vacation period. Yesterday at least I got to run around at the park while helping with the school’s field day…something that may have cut a few calories anyway.
I appear to have a limited supply of motivation… and right now it is targeted in these two basic areas, career and parenting. The problem is, from past experience I know that I become miserable when the rest of my life is not
in balance. The physical, mental, social and spiritual sides of me all need to be in some sort of alignment for me to be happy.
But even if I start now I know I won’t have washboard abs by summer. So I’ll stay in my full-on one piece while I swim my laps in the pool this summer. And I’m good with that as long as I can enjoy the view of everyone else’s hard work while I make up for my lazy spring.